Our View: A survey we’d trust | TheUnion.com

Our View: A survey we’d trust

It’s obvious this community has deep feelings about the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

It seems mining is fine as a history piece. Something you place on the mantelpiece and show the grandkids, but otherwise leave where it is, untouched. It’s a museum display, an artifact from another time that stays in the past.

Except, of course, when it doesn’t.

Rise Gold Corp. is serious about reopening the mine, which hasn’t been in operation since 1957, nearly 65 years. It’s been doing exploratory drilling for years. The question was always, can it get enough gold to the surface to make the cost worthwhile while adhering to all the relevant safety and environmental regulations, as well as be a good fit with the community at large.

With Rise Gold’s recent survey touting a majority of people supporting the effort, with a bit of coaching or framing the questions, let’s say, that last would seem to suggest a “yes.”

It’s obvious the people behind the mine need community buy-in. You don’t spend the money required to produce this survey for no good reason.

It’s looks like the latest step in a public relations campaign to sway people in favor of the mine. It’s already pointedly told the community in these pages that it’s planning on creating 600 local jobs by reopening the mine. Projections call for 312 employees, two-thirds of them people who already live here. Local spending of $50 million a year would lead to 300 new indirect jobs.

Sounds great, right?

The problem, however, is that there are plenty of people here who won’t be swayed by mere promises of jobs or growth. They also aren’t convinced by this survey produced by the mine.

Lies, damned lies and statistics, after all. What might a survey paid for by opponents of the mine claim?

The road this community will take on this process branches in different directions. We must follow the right path to ensure we get to the right result.

And before all the information is gathered, we don’t know what that result is, though most everyone has a role to play in helping determine it.

The draft environmental impact report on the mine should be released soon. It will have a period of time when people can comment on the report. This will be among the many chances for all of us to have our voices heard.

Grass Valley City Council member Hilary Hodge recently made a great point: Arguments against the mine aren’t coming from the council’s frequent fliers, the people who always have something to say. They’re coming from people who usually don’t appear in person or speak directly to their government.

That type of feedback has more individual impact than a survey provided by a company looking to develop. It’s the type of direct communication that can change an elected official’s vote in real time.

If past is prologue, then we can expect this process to drag on for months, possibly receive approval by the Board of Supervisors, and then get followed by litigation in an attempt to stop it.

But the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine isn’t like just any other project. This mine hasn’t been in operation for decades. It raises the possibility of environmental, noise, traffic and aesthetic problems, to list just a few.

People voicing their concerns or support to supervisors is good, but a vote of the people would be even better. No survey can compete with the will of the people expressed through a true referendum. Measure W — the ballot measure that would have banned outdoor marijuana grows, if passed — proves that.

Our local government could hold a non-binding vote on the issue. Spell out the promises Rise Gold would make — jobs provided, environmental concerns addressed — and let’s see how the people truly feel.

That’s a survey we all could trust.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

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